Thursday, January 5, 2017

90. Where Are They Now?: Nestlé Vita Kid, JUN KING AUSTRIA

NESTLE VITA LAUNCH AD, starred Jun King Austria, who would go on to
 be a child star and a successful commercial film director.

 Sometime in 1986, TV viewers were introduced to a new product of Nestlé Philippines  that incorporated chocolate, milk, sugar and soya in one health drink—NESTLÉ VITA. Nestlé believed in the potential of soya as the answer to the search for more affordable nutrition sources for Filipino children, resulting in the production of the revolutionary powdered drink.

NESTLE VITA PRODUCT AD, 1986. Alex R. Castro Collection

While NESTLÉ VITA generated initial interest, it was the performance of the little boy in a lab coat, with moptop hair and glasses that captivated millions of TV viewers. The commercial conceived by ad agency Ace-Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising shows a boy genius type working in a lab setting, trying to mix the perfect formula for a chocolate health drink. But the multitude of ingredients needed to concoct the drink only served to faze him (“Sugar, milk, ice, hooooo hirap!").

2-PAGE LAUNCH AD, featuring Jun King Austria

Until—the boy discovers Nestlé VITA that only needed water to create the perfect chocolate health drink to his liking. He ends his “experiment” with the line—“I therefore conclude that no other chocolate drink is more complete as  NESTLÉ VITA”.

TAPE ROLLING! Nestle Vita Boy gives another good take.

The precocious little boy who charmed his way to the audience’s heart was JUN KING AUSTRIA, son of Ernesto Austria and Liwliwa Villa Agustin of Manila. Early on, he caught the eye of TV and movie casters, with his little boy “bibo” looks—that earned him tickets to casting auditions and even minor TV appearance. Jun King amazed agency people with his ability to take directions and his cheerful disposition.

ERNESTO "Jun King" AUSTRIA II. In 1982.

He started bagging commercial assignments, doing ads for Colgate, Ajax Detergent, Knorr, Sunny Dew Orange, Hybrid 5 Chicken and Kraft Eden Cheese. But it was his solo lead performance in that NESTLÉ VITA launch commercial that brought him more recognition.

THIS BOY IS A PRO! Another TVC shoot for Jun King Austria.

The ad was directed by the notable Jun Urbano (later known as the comedian “Mr. Shooli” and son of screen icon, Manuel Conde), who shot the ad for just half a day in the old Filmex studio near Broadway Centrum. Director Urbano recalls that it was one of the quickest commercial he has done—Jun King impressed the veteran director by hitting all his cues perfectly, and his segment took only an hour to complete.

Later that year, Jun King did a second NESTLÉ VITA TV ad, a promo commercial that advertised free plastic VITA shakers. Jun King was supported in this song-and-dance commercial by child actress Gladys Reyes, whom he became fast friends with.

JUN KING transitioned to mainstream TV, starring in popular telenovelas.

He would do a dozen more commercials until showbiz discovered him. That started when he got a call from a common friend of producer Mother Lily (Monteverde) and his ‘ninang’, who asked if he wanted to act on TV. Apparently, Mother Lily was looking for a child actor to portray the young Albert Martinez in a TV project.

He and his Dad (his mother was in the that time) agreed to do an audition at Regal Films that same afternoon, and next thing they knew, Jun King was shooting the movie “Lilac”, starring Snooky Serna, Albert Martinez and Gloria Romero.

"LILAC", Jun King's first teleserye; he appeared as the young Albert Martinez.

After “Lilac”, his TV assignments just poured on. He was on “Flor de Luna”, “Tanikalang Buhangin”, and “Verdadero” , where he played the role of Moses (later, the series was repackaged as “Tungkod ni Moises”). He also became a mainstay for “Kulit Bulilit” for a year.

JUN KING AUSTRIA, early teens, and a "That's Entertainment" 90s member.

Pretty soon, German Moreno (“Kuya Germs”) came a-calling and included Jun King in his very popular “That’s Entertainment” daily afternoon show. He joined the Friday group with contemporaries Jessa Zaragosa, Fred Moore de los Santos, Bamba and Strawberry. Jun King never stopped his schooling while in showbiz from where he took a 2-year break when he reached that so-called awkward stage.

JUN KING AUSTRIA, a new career behind the camera.

Sometime in 2002 while doing a commercial for Bayantel’s “Zippedee” directed by Teddy Catuira, he was coached by assistant director Melvin Lee. Jun King expressed his interest to foray into directing, and Lee agreed to take him as his assistant for a major project—Mark Meily’s “Crying Ladies” (2003). That movie provided him the training ground that led him to embark on a lifelong career in directing.

DIREK JUN KING, in action.

Jun King today is very much in demand as assistant director for TV commercials, as well as films (100, Downtown, Sign Seeker ). He occasionally acts in films (Flotsam, 2015; Kimmy Dora, 2013; La Visa Loca, 2005).  On the side, his love for cars jumpstarted a business which he put up with friends, supplying prop cars for television commercials.

KING OF THE WORLD. The Austria Family: son Ernesto III, Jun King
and  wife Verna.

Jun King Austria is married to Verna Primicias, with whom he has a son, Ernesto III. As a kid herself, wife Verna had seen the NESTLÉ VITA commercial, and had developed a big crush for the Vita boy, whom fate decreed later to be her husband.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Then: Jun King and father, Ernesto I" Now:
Ernesto III with father Jun King,
When asked if he is still recognized for that role today, Jun King says, “Not anymore. “But when I mention my name especially to people 45 years old and older, they would light up and say—HAH?? IKAW NA YUN?

THIS BOY IS KING: Commercial Talent, Child Actor, Film and Commercial Director, Businessman
 * * * * * * 

MANY THANKS TO MR. JUN KING AUSTRIA, for the online interview.
ALL PICTURES, courtesy of Jun King Austria's Facebook Page, unless otherwise noted.


  1. Sir Alex, did this ad appear first before those Ovaltine series of ads (supplemented with its "Ovaltine Power" jingle") that featured adventurous kids a la Top Gun and ''Indiana Jones", as well as the same kids trying to solve simple situations (a la Mentos)?

  2. Ovaltine Power was launched a little after Vita Chocolate, sometime in 1987. The Indiana Jones Kid won as one of the top ad models in 1988.